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TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

criteria is likely to be

criteria is likely to be problematic, due to the practical aspects of whaling operations and furthermore, it is feared these criteria may be inadequate, and may be responsible for underestimating time to death during whaling operations (chapter 11). For example, using these criteria it may be possible to judge a live whale, that is suffering from paralysis due to injury, as dead. Furthermore, Kestin (1995) argues that in practice, there will be a time lag between striking the whale and making an assessment. ‘Instantaneous death’ during commercial whaling operations, is likely to equate to a whale that, according to the IWC criteria, shows no signs of life some 10 seconds after the harpoon has been fired. Welfare potential of whaling operations A killing method that is truly painless and causes minimum distress to the animal can be classified as humane slaughter and therefore a process with the potential for high welfare. The basic principles that must be addressed to protect the welfare of livestock animals at slaughter provide a useful framework with which to compare the welfare potential of current whale killing methods. From the analysis above, it is clear that there are a number of factors inherent in current whale killing methods which limit the potential for high welfare. These include the initial pursuit, and the difficulties involved in hitting a distant, largely submerged, moving target from a moving platform at sea. The killing methods themselves are often not well adapted for the species taken, or the variability of size between individuals of the same species according to age, sex and season. The significance of these variables and the inadequacies of the methods used are reflected in the poor instantaneous death rates, the average times to death and the need for secondary killing methods during all types of whaling operation. Discussion The often poor instantaneous death rate and mean and maximum times to death (see chapter 6) reflect the lack of welfare management and enforcement in the whaling industry. The only provisions relating to welfare that currently exist in the schedule to the ICRW 1946 are provided in Table 1. Note also that the schedule refers only to the killing of whales for aboriginal subsistence need in relation to mean sustainable yield of the stock (article III, paragraph 13a) and no provisions are made, within the schedule, to specifically address the welfare issues associated with this particular category of whaling. Even the IWC definition of ‘humane killing’ is ambiguous 7 . This definition, although suggested as an ideal, does not require any compliance, nor is it followed with any regularity. The extent and quality of legislation currently enacted in many states for the protection of animals at the time of slaughter, contrasts with the almost complete lack of regulation on the methods used during whaling operations. Historically attempts have been made within the IWC to address this issue and a number of resolutions and recommendations have been adopted by the IWC (chapter 5). Despite these resolutions and recommendations, the quantity and quality of data presented at the Working Groups and Workshops on Whale Killing Methods and Associated Welfare Issues remains poor. St Vincent and the Grenadines, for example, failed to submit any data on humpback kills at the 2003 workshop and Japan has consistently failed to submit any data on the slaughter of sperm whales in the North Pacific. The meagre requirements in the schedule for data collection represent the only guidelines to which A COMPARISON BETWEEN SLAUGHTERHOUSES AND METHODS USED DURING WHALING 99

100 A REVIEW OF THE WELFARE IMPLICATIONS OF MODERN WHALING ACTIVITIES Table 1 Animal welfare and the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling Article Para Text III 6 The killing for commercial purposes of whales, except minke whales using the cold grenade harpoon shall be forbidden from the beginning of the 1980/81 pelagic and 1981 coastal seasons. The killing for commercial purposes of minke whales using the cold grenade harpoon shall be forbidden from the beginning of the 1982/83 pelagic and the 1983 coastal seasons8 (Capture) . III 14 It is forbidden to take or kill suckling calves or female whales & accompanied by calves. [Paragraph 14 refers to baleen whales 17 and paragraph 17 refers to sperm whales]. VI 25a All contracting governments shall report to the Commission for all Information whale catchers operating in conjunction with factory ships and land Required stations the following information: 1) methods used to kill each whale, other than a harpoon, and in particular compressed air 2) number of whales struck and lost 25b A record similar to that described in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph shall be maintained by vessels engaged in “small-type whaling” operations and by native peoples taking species listed in paragraph 1, and all the information mentioned in the said subparagraph shall be entered therein as soon as available, and forwarded by Contracting Governments to the Commission. VI 27 Notification shall be given in accordance with the provisions of Article VII of the Convention with regard to all factory ships and catcher ships of the following statistical information: a) concerning the number of whales of each species taken, the number thereof lost, and the number treated at each factory ship or land stations, and ... VI 28b The information required under paragraph (a)(2)(iii) should also be recorded together with the following information, in the log book format shown in Appendix A9 , and forwarded to the Commission... whalers, taking cetaceans under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission, must adhere. Furthermore, there is no enforcement of this data collection process. Therefore, any reporting undertaken in adherence to Article VI of the schedule is at the discretion of the whalers, or national inspectors onboard. There is also no independent verification mechanism for ensuring the quality and accuracy of these data.

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